Bird's Eye View of Bute

The Maids of Bute Walk

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Maid's of Bute


The Maid's of Bute Walk.

The most common story about the Maid's of Bute is that two fishermen went out on their boat to get fish and never returned, well the Fishermen's wives waited and waited, and they waited that long that they turned to stone.



This is not a walk for the faint hearted.  it is hard to do all the year round, but if you should attempt it from July - September, then your are on your own, what with Bracken at chest height or higher, and if wet it lies across what will seem like a resemblance of a path making travel very slow, with hidden traps, like ditches, stones and branches hidden from sight, and they seem  attracted to your shins?

Over the millenia, many feet have trodden this area, looking for the elusive maid's, and returning sore, wet , hungry, and tired, and never laid eyes on them!  You could well add to this number, so take heed in what I write and you may arrive-see them-and return safe and well.
In saying this, I will not be responsible if you take up the challenge, it is up to you, but if you succeed, then you join the elite band who have seen them before you.
Stout walking boots, gaiters are a must.

Arrive at Rhubodach and pass the small Ticket office, coming to a gate ( 1) which will say Rhubodach Shore Walk but I changed it to Maids of Bute Walk, so that you will know that your are on the right track.
Through the gate following the red arrow, and when the track becomes faint, head to the high tide mark at the shore and follow the shoreline till  you come to the Balnakailly Stream head upstream till you come to the crossing part that tractors use, and while you are doing this,  keep your eyes peeled for a Dipper at the waters edge.
Now  I took the image of the crossing during a dry spell, and at low tide, and observe the stones on the right of the crossing.  These are stepping stones, which are handy as there is always water here, but no good at high tide or during periods of heavy rain, when they are hidden and may make you trip, so ending your walk at the first hurdle?
 

Before you go and get wet feet, there is a now a new bridge  (Oct 2010 )a few yards upstream beyond the gate that you will have seen.Go through this gate , over the bridge and turn right and head for the Galvanised Gate , then follow my directions.



When you arrive at this fence you will see two arrows in my photo. ( 3).  This is because of tides. If they are high, you have to take to the woods, and if low, walk along the shore.  Now it needs to be a very low tide to walk the shore due to the large outcrop of  inaccessible rock barring your way, so remember this when planning your walk, as the woods have poor paths and overhanging branches in it's whole length, plus it is always wet in them no matter  how dry the weather has been, so you will be squelching and squiggling all the way.  If in the woods, keep the shore in sight as it won't take you long to get to the end.

Next ( 4)  three more red arrows, one for the shore that you have just walked, one for exiting the woods, and one for the way that  you head next. You will have just arrived at an iron post, and four and a bit wooden posts , so you have passed the first bad bit. Head on, ( 5) to the tree on the right and sit on the heather clad mound of rock and draw your breath,( 6) and listen and look for Seals, Grey Herons, Geese, Eider Ducks, Red Breasted Mergansers,  Mallards and maybe a few Gannets.

Carry on , keeping the coastline near, but ignoring the small points that jut out  and head to (7), where you will find a bit of easy walking and a stream. Now there are two arrows in case of high tides, but if you have judged it right, take the coastal route, as you do not want to really scramble  through these thickets. Scramble over more heather bound mounds, (8) then along the shores till you encounter old dead seaweed at the high tide mark.  This is near the point that you exit the shores and head inland, ( 9) Take note of this image withe big rocks and trees. To help you, if you have a GPS, you should be at NS0127374768. Then set it to a heading of 220, or do the same with your compass. This will take you inland in the general direction of the maids, but not in a straight line, as your direction will be governed by outcrops of rocks covered in heather. (10) If you miss the turn off point, you will come across this large stone. Stop! Either go, back a few yards and look for the path, or go left, keeping a tall bush to your right, and the faint track is only about fifteen feet from the shore.
Finding the track, proceed with care, as when you go about twenty yards , you will find another bush practically covering the path, and you will have to push it aside to carry on. Below this bush is a deep ditch which is invisible, so watch you step

Now the paths that you are now on are made by Feral Goats which are not very tall, so that is why you will find bushes in you way. (11) Look  up and ahead for a Rhododendron Bush.  If it is in bloom, your lucks in as you will see it easily. If not binoculars are handy. Get to this bush, (12) go round the hillock . Head for the next Hillock (13)  checking your compass as you travel. (14) Now, by this time you may think that I am leading you astray, what with numerous paths going in many directions, but bear with me. If you have followed my directions, you are nearly in sight of the maids. (15)   Now you arrive at an elevated part of the track, and lo and behold, you will now see them a short distance away. (16) You are now there, so handshakes all round, cameras working  flat out, then flasks out ( no spirits) sarnies unwrapped and enjoy the vista, before you retrace your steps (hopefully).
Listen out for Raven's, and you may even see a few Buzzards, and perhaps other Raptors.

Returning is comparatively easy as the tracks are more easily seen.  Compass 40 You may wander off course at times, there being many tracks  but will soon find your way back. If you find your feet getting very wet, then you are in the sea, so turn sharp right, and head for your car.

Now it is only about 1.4 Miles either way, and bet you have never used up so many calories in such a short distance?

I hope that you enjoyed this walk , I do , and perhaps the next one that I write about will be a lot easier, but don't bet on it.

Norrie Mulholland.
 

ps. After seeing the fishermens wives turned to stone, observe the size of them, their laid back look, the width of their bodies ,and the colour of their apparel. Do you blame them for not returning?


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